Tag Archives: Mom

Another Year, Another Day

2 Jun

I wonder if when my parents got married 40 years ago they ever imagined they’d have a daughter so lazy that she’d rerun the one and only thing she’d ever written about their anniversary.  I hope so, I’d like to think I was making their dreams come true.

Oh, and please add 366 to the end, okay?


Today is our parents’ wedding anniversary.  They were never huge celebrators.  Every once in a while Stacy and I would get some hair-brained idea to do something for them, which usually turned out pretty lame.  One year we took an old bread basket we found in the basement and embroidered their wedding date into the woven surface.  The term ’embroidered’ here is about as loose as the stitches in the project.  It was pretty special.  Mom probably still has it hanging up somewhere near her desk downstairs.  So Mom, please feel free to toss it any time you like.

Don’t you love their wedding photo?  Mom’s all white with just the right amount of black accent on the super trendy glasses and Dad’s got that completely groovy Bang Shwoop.  Love it.

Also, look closely at the candelabras.  Do you see it?  Look again.  Yup.  Bulbs.  Real, live, electric candles.

Mom and Gramma made the wedding dress.  I think she told me it cost $12.  That was so smart.  I cannot tell you how many times my sister and I have talked about the stupidity of spending hundreds of dollars on a wedding dress that we would only wear once when we could have had something beautiful, and simple, and white for much less.  So, in order to take down the cost-per-wear on ours we have each donned them at least one other time.

On our fourth anniversary I was cleaning out the cedar closet (I know, romantic, right?) when I saw mine hanging in the back.  I had just lost some of the baby weight from Thomas’ birth and so I decided to see if it still fit.  I was so excited when it zipped all the way up that I ran through the basement toward the backyard where Jerry was mowing (much like my parents, we seriously know how to live it up on our anniversary) and I knocked our poor seven month old son right over with my train.  And that, my friends, is one of the reasons you should wait until after you are married to have children.

Stacy put on her gown at our house last summer while Mom and Jerry were out building a retaining wall.  We were so excited by its ginormousness and her teeniness that we ran out side to show them.  That’s when our new neighbor across the street finally came to introduce herself.  And to warn us never to come near her or her family.  No, not really, but seriously, can you imagine having us as neighbors?

It’s safe to say that our love of everyday joys comes from our parents.  It wasn’t the wedding itself that was important.  They didn’t focus on the dress, or flowers, or cake and punch reception in the church basement, but in Christ joining them as one in heart, body and mind.  Mom and Dad’s anniversary always reminds me that marriage is about the everyday.  Their marriage is no different on June 2 than it is on the other 364 days of the year.   I don’t know if that’s why they don’t make a big deal about their anniversary, but it seems like a valid rationale to me.

Happy 14,244th day of marriage, Mom and Dad!

Winter Warmth

14 Jan

Winter finally arrived here in Michigan this weekend.  I want to hate it, but it has that snow-globe, brighten-the-gray, picturesque ambiance that is actually melting my heart instead of freezing it over.  This is the kind of snow that makes you understand how Narnia under the rule of the White Witch might have seemed like a good idea at first.

But it wasn’t, remember?  Let us not ignore the main message behind C.S. Lewis’ most beloved work:  Winter is Bad.  Spring is Good.

Okay, so maybe that wasn’t the main message he had in mind, but I don’t think it was accidental either.  In fact I think he was rather on to something with the whole “Always winter and never Christmas” bit.  I would be winter’s biggest fan if the season ended on January 6, too. (That’s right folks, I’m taking one more stab at pointing out to you that the 12 days of Christmas occur after December 25.  I’m relentless like that.)

But it doesn’t.  In fact this year it didn’t even get a good go at whitifying the area until now.  So I suppose I can cut the season a fortnight or so of slack.

But do you hear that, Winter?  I want you out of here by Jan 31.  No exceptions.  In the meantime, thank you for your tree outlining beauty, and your ability to give me an extra day or two home with my husband.  You’re pretty cool.  Which is also what bothers me about you, but I will ignore that as long as I can knit warm wooly goodies, and snuggle into my flannel sheets every night.

So, I bet you’re wondering where I’m going with all this bipolar polar opining?   Here:

Doesn’t she look like the coziest damsel on the block?  That bright red warm-up suit was my Dad’s from his Lutheran High wrestling days.  That’s right, my Mom married a stud, and then she got to nap in his clothes.  It’s one of the most awesome plans to acquire comfy sleepwear I’ve heard to date.

There are so many other things I love about this photo, the lines of the couch, my Dad’s coin collecting jugs on the end table, the bottom of the treble clef sign that Mom made out of some sort of orange rocks.  And that linoleum?!?!  Isn’t that the bee’s knees in floor covering?  What I wouldn’t give to have a little of that under our dining room table.

But most of all, I love that it’s yet another picture of my Mom sleeping.  Lest you get the impression that she is a lazy woman, please know that there is no more busy body in a three county area.  Well, there might be some busybodies, but they’re too busy moving their yappers to keep up with Mom.  She goes, goes, goes all day long.  And then when she sits, she falls asleep.

It happened over bowls of vegetable soup at dinnertime, it happened with every book she ever read us, and it even happened in the middle of bedtime prayers.  The night sleep interrupted her mid-sentence was a favorite, “Dear God, thank you for oh plip . . .

We might have rudely woken her with our laughter after that one, bwe’ve thanked God for Oh Plips many times since.  Oh Plips are a source of joy for our family.

So, as winter wraps it’s blanket of snow tightly around us it’s time to take a lesson from my Mom and go slip into the warmest of my husband’s duds and hibernate.  You should, too.

Oh, excuse me for just a second.

Mom, Mom?  Wake up, Mom!  We’re at the end of the post, it’s time to get up!  Okay?




On the Tenth Day of Christmas is Gramma Jan’s Birthday

3 Jan

See this beautiful woman doting on her only granddaughter?

Not only is she wearing one of her 45 turtlenecks, it’s her birthday today.

Her birthday calls for the break of our blogging fast.  Also, it calls for blogging fast, before I run out of January 3rd.

She’s a marvelous woman, that Mom of ours.  Trust me, she dotes on her grandsons, too.  All eight of them.  She serves them pudding,

plays War, 

even dons a towel and sock hands.

Don’t worry, we’ll tell you more about that later.

Also, she is our Mommy.  A really good, snuggly, lovey, lovely, cozy, cuddly Mommy.

Happy Birthday, Mom.  We love you, too.

Slow and Steady Wins By A Neck

1 Dec

The other day I was reassembling the newspaper after our oldest scavenged the comic pages when I ran across a fashion article that piqued my interest.  You see, I am really interested in fashion, especially when it coincides with a particular style that has been a staple in my life for, well, all my life.

So when the Grand Rapids Press runs a syndicated article stating that turtlenecks are the “Must Have” wardrobe piece for Winter 2012 I say, “Have.”  Plus, I’m pretty sure all the hip young kids take their fashion cues from newspapers these days.

Turtlenecks are definitely a Thing I Love (I’ll leave it up to my sister to decide if she would like parenthetical inclusion on this subject.)  My closet is organized by color and there are very few sections of the spectrum that go without one of these cozy tops.  Although I do wonder if clothing manufacturers have an aversion to warm colors for cold weather gear, because I lack shirts in the yellow/orange family.  Oh!  And purple.  I have no purple!

Note to self:  update Amazon Wish List.

As with most of my questionable quirks this one has a strong genetic component.  Our Mom’s neck can only be viewed from May through September.  One might be concerned that she has just one look, but this is untrue.  As both mom and the article attest, the sturdy turtleneck can sport its fashion weight in many arenas.

Just look at the possibilities:  turtlenecks with sweatshirts, turtlenecks with sweaters, turtlenecks with blazers, and we’ve recently introduced Mom to turtlenecks with scarves.  She isn’t so risque as to attempt to wear a turtleneck by itself, but the fashionista who reported on the versatile top claims even that can be done.

At our house we have found that they are also good for newborns, Halloween costumes, and an all-day hug-around-the-neck feeling.  Although I wouldn’t recommend them if you are planning to visit the Henry Doorly Zoo’s Desert Dome.

This is where I should wrap this up by saying, “Don’t just take it from me . . .”  and provide you with a handy link to the trend-setting written proof;  but since the paper has long been recycled, I took no photographic evidence of the article, and a google search left me questioning my memory, you’ll have to settle instead for, “Take it from me and my great recollection of this very reliable source:  Turtlenecks are cool (and also warm.)”

I wouldn’t have dreamed up something that is so obviously  logical, likely, and important, right?




12 Nov

Betcha can’t guess out of what decade today’s grab bag special is pulled.


Did I hear someone say the 70’s?  You are most likely correct.  There is a slim chance it might have been taken in the early days of January 1980 when my Mom was celebrating her 29th birthday with brand new aluminum pizza pans and another gift done up in my father’s specialty wrapping – the newspaper.  But even if big hair, leg warmers, and Ronald Reagan were on the horizon the 1970’s were clinging on for dear life.

First, there is that wallpaper.  Seriously bold choice.  Although, I’m pretty sure it wasn’t our parents’.  They moved into that kitchen with it’s Formica, brown fridge, metal cabinets and the most decade defining wall decor ever manufactured.

And while they can’t be blamed for those decisions, it seems like they might have been sniffing the wallpaper paste in a couple other design areas.  You can’t see this very well, but the chair I’m sitting in was a padded, beautiful, Big Bird Yellow.   It matched the BBY Formica table underneath the brown and gold madras tablecloth.

The orange bowl to the left of the refrigerator, however, is not some super-trendy serving set my parent’s received off their “registry” at Ace Hardware.  That is the most important bowl in my Mother’s kitchen.  Always has been, and unless she comes down with a mean case of diverticulitis, always will be.

That is the bowl/lid of her Stir Crazy.  You know what a Stir Crazy is, right – those fabulous popcorn poppers that have a little metal rod that “stirs” the bottom of the hot plate where the popcorn kernels await their chance to pop like “crazy.”  When it’s all over you flip the entire appliance and the transparent orange lid becomes your snack’s serving bowl.

The man who invented it is a genius.  A genius who lives down the street from us, that is.  Yup.  You read that right – one of the men who designed the West Bend Stir Crazy Popcorn Popper lives just around the corner from our house.  He and his wife retired in Grand Rapids after, one can only assume, they went Stir Crazy in Wisconsin.

And if anything can convince my parents that it’s a good idea to move to Michigan it would be the example of my mother’s hero.  I sure hope when they do move this direction she’ll let me borrow that awesome cardigan.

Happy Birth-, I mean FIELDday, Dad!

30 Aug

Today is a very important day in our family.  One that should certainly not go unrecognized.   It’s a date that Stacy and I are expected to remember every year, and as the end of August draws near we receive countless reminders that the preparations are underway.  The anticipation is palpable.  And even though on the surface it would appear that this day is just about Dad, we must never forget that Mom’s role in making sure that everything comes off smoothly is crucial.

You see, today is Field Day.

Oh, yesterday also happened to be Dad’s 60th birthday.

But Field Day, that’s the big deal.

Unless your father also happens to be a Seed Corn Salesman or you’ve done an anthropological report about the major events in the lives of corn farmers you might be wondering what a Field Day is.  Well you’ve come to the wrong place for answers.

Neither Stacy nor I have ever been to a Field Day.  We don’t know exactly what the Big Hub Bub is about, but we do know that it is a Big Hub Bub.  And over the years we have been able to piece together what we assume is a fairly decent picture of the event.  This is what we do know about Field Day:

Erase all images of Three-Legged Races and Standing Long Jumps.
Field Day is not to be confused with Track and Field Day.  As Dad would say, “I don’t know where you’re from, but here in our parts we call that them there a Track Meet”  Okay, Dad would never say that.  He uses good grammar.

The food preparation for Field Day rivals only that of Christmas.
Approximately two weeks before Field Day Mom starts baking and cleaning like nobody’s business.  We get disjointed e-mails from her that read something like this:

Just look at that spread. Yuh-hum.

Field day . . . 11 days.
35 dozen monster cookies
pumpkin bars,
picnic bars
potato salad
broccoli salad not done
must can tomatoes . . .

Our mother, who also uses good grammar, is reduced to nothing but a walking, baking, list of a woman.

The household preparation for Field Day rivals only that of nesting.
Last year as Mom and Dad were in the throes of Field Day prep I was nearly in the throes of labor.  With Twins.  While I didn’t have the physical ability to do much but point my finger and complain about the thirty-odd projects that I wanted done before the babies arrived, they were at their own house doing their own thirty-odd projects.  Re-siding the garage, power-washing the old shed, mowing the extremely large lawn,  weeding the garden, building picnic tables.  All I wanted was for the Christmas decorations to come down.

On Field Day my father serves Cowboy Beer.
Dad makes beer.  Good beer.  Delicious, substantial, manly beer.  On Field Day dad supplies his guests with their favorite drink.  Cowboy Beer.  A faintly flavored and tinted beverage that has no place in my parents refrigerator the other 364 days of the year.  And although I think he attempted a batch once, my Dad doesn’t waste his brewing talents to fill the red plastic cups for this event.

On Field Day a bunch of farmers and their wives eat a lot of brisket.
My parent’s serve absolutely delicious brisket on Field Day, and apparently the deliciousness of the meat is a key ingredient of the day. It is possibly the reason some customers choose to come.  We’ve heard tales of men sitting around for hours eating sandwich after sandwich of the tender, succulent beef.   And while there isn’t much to the preparation of the meat, the act of acquiring it is fairly complicated.  You see, the brisket comes from Sam’s Club.  Mom and Dad are not members of Sam’s Club.  That means, that in order to possess the meat that draws the crowd they must connect themselves to a Sam’s Club Shopper.  We are members, but Michigan is pretty far from Ainsworth in terms of meat transportation.  Omaha is closer, but Stacy is no longer on the Sam’s Club roles.  Instead she must enlist the assistance of her in-laws to help lasso the elusive cow our parents need.

There is a Field.
For years Field Day actually occurred in a field.   They would haul tables, and chairs, and roasters, and salads, and desserts, and beer, and anything else that they might possibly need out into the test plot (a field where they have planted a bunch of different varieties of corn close together.)  Several years ago they began using the my uncle’s field across the road from my parent’s house as the test plot and this allowed them to have Field Day in the comfort of their own garage.  They’ve never looked back.

Field Day has a purpose.
But we’re not completely confident we know what it is.  My best guess is that it’s sort of a cross between a Customer Appreciation Picnic and a Look What Great Results Our Hybrids Get Party.  I don’t know if people wander across the road to see the corn.  I assume so.  I do know that Dad put’s up a lot of signs, but you can read those from the driveway, so it’s hard to say.  I would venture to guess that the women and children probably stick close to the scotcheroos, but then again, I could be wrong, because . . .

We’ve never been to a Field Day even though our Parents seem to have forgotten this.
Field day is now such a monumental event for them that I suppose it’s difficult to remember that when we lived at home Dad didn’t sell seed corn. Pro-boxes, and pallets, and soy beans, and semis, and hybrids weren’t part of our everyday lives as children.  We try to keep up with these changes and someday I hope we can make a late August journey to Nebraska and experience what seems to be the culmination of their day to day life.

Until then I must be content with my own romanticized images of men in Pioneer caps holding a red cup of beer in one hand and the world’s yummiest pumpkin bar in the other sharing big belly laughs over old farmer stories while their wives kindly assist my mom in refilling the salad bowls.  Happy Field Day, Mom and Dad!

(Oh, and Dad,  Happy Belated Birthday!)

And the Winner is . . .

15 Aug

Just kidding.  We can’t pick favorites.   Plus, we have nothing to offer as a prize except a hardy round of applause, and even that might be virtual. (clap, clap, clap)  That didn’t seem too hardy.  What about this?  (CLAP!!!  CLAP!!!  CLAP!!!)  Still pretty lame.  So sorry.

But we did gain these impressive stats from this little exercise:  We have EIGHT readers!!!  We never hoped for so large a number.  Of course, one of them is our Mom, but she still counts, right?  Right, Mom??  Mom, are you still reading?  Oh, well – we have SEVEN readers!!!  This is very exciting.  Here are their entries in the great caption contest:

Mom plunges her way through another Halloween with a couple of her 'ghoul-friends'.

Oh, just wait until we pull some photos of our Halloween costumes.  I’ll give you this much as a teaser:  The Michelin Man.


Girls, we should be on the Paris Fashion runways!!! We be stylin’.

I’m fairly certain there is nowhere more geographically or ideologically distant from Paris fashion than our hometown.


Woman plunges GOLD from her ears and lives to tell about it!

As Dad always says, “If ‘ifs’ and ‘buts’ were candy and nuts, and earwax were made of gold . . .”


“The Three Plung-e-teers” – For a small fee, we’ll take care of all your plunging needs AND serve you a tasty home-cooked meal while wearing a smile and sporting the latest fashions.

I have no doubt that these three women did two of those things very well.


Look at what I pulled out of the toilet!

What toilet?  We had an outhouse.  A three-seater.  I’ll tell you about it sometime.


The Golden Girls...the early years...

Oddly, this is very, very close to the truth.


Just heading out to an LWML meeting.

And combined with this one you nearly have the whole story.

But I’ll get to that tomorrow.  For now, I’ll leave you with one last caption.  Guess who sent in this gem?

I needed to exercise censorship before I sent a box of photos home with my daughter

Mom?  Mom?  Are you still out there?  You still love us, right, Mom?

(crickets chirping)


Your Brain, Our Photos

8 Aug

I’m planning/researching a fantastic Grab Bag Special for you, but the photo is too wonderful to sit idly by on my hard drive until I get my act together.  Therefore, you get a sneak peak.

Not so fast!  There’s a catch.  In order to see this unbelievable snapshot of family history you have to give us something*.

A Caption.

A wonderful, apt, clever, witty, spunky caption.  Or, something boring.  That’s fine, too.

Here’s what you need to know about the picture:  the woman in the middle is my mother.  That’s it.  Go!  Be clever!  Submit!  Multiple entries welcome!

Special Note to Our Mother:  Mom, you may compete.  In fact, you should.  And, if you are inclined, you could even look up the “source documents” for us.

Alright, everybody ready now?  Do you have your Caption Caps on?  Here it is:

Your Best Caption Here

*If you’ve gotten this far you’ve probably already seen the picture.  So, get to writing.  Okay, we admit we’ve got no power.  You’re on the honor system.  But I will say this:  Please.

Social Networking by the Books

29 Jul

Stacy and I got the most touching e-mail yesterday.  Here, let me read part of it to you:

Did I tell you how I felt taking the book back to the library? I didn’t really want to give it up. I wanted to know more about their lives. I also am afraid that another book won’t be as good a friend as this one. Like giving up a comfortable chair or pair of shoes, I’m afraid a new book won’t be as comfortable.

Isn’t that so sweet?  My sister and I have felt this way hundreds of times about a whole slew of characters, and this new reader captured it so beautifully.

The big shock is that this new reader is our mother.  Bet you didn’t know she wasn’t a reader.  She hides it well.  Somehow she manages to be funny, bright, articulate, and knowledgeable without the aid of fiction.  I can’t imagine what she’ll be like now that we seem to have her reading habit well on its way to addiction.

So you’re probably wondering how a nonreader managed to rear two bibliophiles.  Although I can’t remember ever seeing my Mom curled up with a novel of her own she never hesitated to read to us.  Some of my best childhood memories (and I have a lot) are of evenings sprawled across the bed with Mom and Stacy laughing at Ramona Quimby until our sides ached.

Reading was about closeness and family time, laughing together and making new friends bound by ink, but released by our imaginations and conversations.  Reading was socializing in both the real and virtual worlds.  To this day my sister and I still approach books in this same way.

Here’s where you can help us.  Mom’s new friends are the lovely people of Guernsey Island.  Have you met them?  If not, you should introduce yourself to the main character, Juliet, and the two of you should ferry over and make yourselves at home.  Then you should lend us your expertise.  Mom’s a bit leery about meeting new people, so can you introduce her to some that you’ve loved?  Who are the best friends you’ve made in books?

We look forward to your suggestions and can’t wait to put books on hold – the original “friend request.”


9 Jul

My sister and I regularly encourage our parents to move closer to us.  They counter with an argument that usually goes something like this, “We won’t have jobs anywhere else.  Blah, blah.  We’re not independently wealthy.  Blah, blah.  Easier said than blah.”

Well, it looks like maybe we finally got through to them.  They seem to have come up with a clever way to make a little money so they can buy that seven bedroom, ten bathroom dream home with it’s own waterpark and nanny service outside of Des Moines.   Just look at these breath-taking photos my Mom took of their new business enterprise:

Nope, it's not a purple sugared spritz cookie, it's the top of a seed pod on a Poppy.

For awhile we thought Mom had taken up Oceanic Horticulture or Microscopic Biology, turns out she was just photographing Poppy Buds in black and white. Duh.

See, here it is in context with just a smidge of color.

All I can say is, "Wow. Wawow. Wow." Mom, did you order up those clouds as backdrop? Nicely done.

Now parents, let’s get busy and make that new Bagel Store happen!

Disclaimer (without which my husband would never let me post this):  My parents are NOT raising poppies.  They grow wild.  FAR from their house.  These poppies do NOT produce any illegal substance implied or otherwise.  This is NOTHING at all like the time my fourth grade sister stayed overnight with a classmate who was whisked out of the country the following day when the Feds swooped in to bust up her parent’s marijuana farm.  My Mom just takes pretty pictures, and you should see them.